[EM] What have I started?!

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Jan 22 20:42:29 PST 2007

At 08:38 AM 1/22/2007, Michael Ossipoff wrote:

>How would we vote on how to vote, if we don't use the most recent method
>that won?

Yes/No votes don't require advanced election methods. Approval is 
unnecessary when we are voting Yes/No on a question. (Since 
overvoting the two possibilities is exactly equivalent to abstaining 
from voting).

What advanced methods are needed for is attempting to decide 
multiple-choice questions, with more than two options, in a single poll.

I haven't seen any proposal here to boot Mr. Ossipoff from this list, 
but I really doubt that we would run an election on whom to boot from 
the list! Okay, active all list members are candidates, now, vote, 
using your favorite method, for whom we should boot. Yes, I would be 
quite concerned that the wrong voting method would result in an 
improper application of the boot.

But that isn't how it would take place. If someone complained and 
moved that Mr. Ossipoff be banned, first of all, if nobody seconded 
it, I hope we would essentially ignore it. If someone seconded it, 
anyone could Object to the Consideration of the Question. It takes a 
simple majority to successfully block consideration. (No group should 
be forced to take up a question against the will of the majority; 
sometimes the debate itself would be sufficiently offensive to 
warrant preventing it from taking place.)

But if it were considered and debated, there remains the question of 
what majority is required to remove a member of an assembly. No 
advanced election method is needed, because the question is Yes/No. 
If a simple majority votes to remove a member, there is definitely a 
problem with keeping the member, but there is also a problem with 
removing the member based solely on a simple majority; generally, I 
think, broader consensus is needed.

We don't actually need to decide. A vote like that, here, would be 
advisory only, so we would simply report the vote. The one being 
advised would decide if the vote were sufficient to warrant banning. 
That would be the list owner or a moderator. My guess is that he 
would not follow a simple majority. He might follow a massive consensus.

And if he ignored a near-consensus, the majority has recourse: moving 
elsewhere. We all have each other's email addresses. ("We" means 
those who write and have written, and, of course, doesn't include 
those who haven't kept the mail.) If a consensus had expressed itself 
and was ignored, I'd say that moving would be quite likely. If it 
were a majority, it would still be reasonably likely, the list might 
fracture. Which could be a good thing in some ways, there can be 
reasons to do this.

Alcoholics Anonymous is famous for having grown through this process. 
There is a saying in AA, "All you need to start a meeting is a 
resentment and a coffee pot." Meetings fracture for various reasons, 
including disagreement about how to run them. AA was designed to 
channel this resentment into new meetings, not into fighting over 
existing ones. After all, all the meeting owns is the coffee pot.

I was, by the way, banned from the Approval Voting list. There was no 
vote. There wasn't a warning that I ignored. The moderator just 
decided that I was "off-topic" in his opinion, too often. When I was 
booted, the traffic dropped drastically, that list now has a couple 
of posts a month. Many of the active participants moved to the Range 
Voting list (one of my offenses was discussing Range Voting, though 
Approval is a Range method). RangeVoting AT yahoogroups DOT com is 
now a very active list and hasn't banned anyone. Mr. Ossipoff was 
quite active there for a time.

Banning should really be quite rare. The moderator of the Approval 
Voting list was an idiot.

If he had set clear rules, and I had ignored them, he would have had 
cause. But he didn't. The one time he posted to the list a warning 
that I was straying, several people wrote that they saw the relevance 
and he replied "Never mind." So the next time he thought I was 
straying, he didn't mention it in public. He just put me on 
moderation, and when that became too much of a nuisance for him, he 
banned me. Both the putting on moderation and the banning were without notice.

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